Social commentary

It's Not Me, It's You

It's Not Me, It's You
Article by Lisa Knisely, appeared in issue Love/Lust; published in 2014; filed under Social commentary.
The absent dialogue around fat women's sexuality

In May of this year, comedian Sarah Baker garnered a lot of attention for the monologue her character, Vanessa, delivered at the end of an episode of Louie. Vanessa asks Louie (Louis C.K.), point blank, why men hate fat girls so much. “What is it about the basics of human happiness, feeling attractive, feeling loved, having guys chase after us, that’s just not in the cards for us?” she asked.

The Questioning Continuum

The Questioning Continuum
Article by Joshunda Sanders, appeared in issue Love/Lust; published in 2014; filed under Social commentary.
Seeking sexuality as a lifelong process

Illustration by Michelle Leigh

At the risk of perpetuating stereotypes, I once went through a bisexual stage.

I was a teenager, and I tried on the label as a way to describe my affection outside of prescribed definitions of love and lust. But like the too-small shoes I’d wear before I came across affordable size 12s, the identity was ill-fitting.

The Madame Butterfly Effect

The Madame Butterfly Effect
Article by Patricia Park, Illustrated by Juliana Wang, appeared in issue Love/Lust; published in 2014; filed under Social commentary.
Tracing the history of a fetish

Illustrations by Juliana Wang

“I can’t compete with an Asian chick,” says the comedian Amy Schumer. When a busty, blue-eyed blond—a type that launched a thousand wet dreams—admits she can’t contend with Asian women, it signals a certain shift in our culture’s preferred sexual tastes.

Against the Ropes

Against the Ropes
Article by Sarah Brown, appeared in issue Tough; published in 2014; filed under Social commentary.
For women boxers, it's a fight just to get in the ring

Photos are from Women Boxers: The New Warriors, by Delilah Montoya.

More than a decade before Maureen “Moe” Shea was Hilary Swank’s sparring partner in Million Dollar Baby, she was struggling just to get a jab in. “There were gyms that closed the door in my face,” says the now 33-year-old featherweight champion. “One person said, ‘Boxing is for people who’ve been in jail. You should be at home baking pies.’”

Precious Mettle

Precious Mettle
Article by Tamara Winfrey Harris, Illustrated by Adee Roberson, appeared in issue Tough; published in 2014; filed under Social commentary.
The myth of the strong black woman

Collage by Adee Roberson

We are the fighters. We are the women who don’t take shit from no man.

We are the women with the sharp tongues and hands firmly on hips. We are the ride-or-die women. We are the women who have, like Sojourner Truth, “plowed and planted and gathered into barns and no man could head us.” We are the sassy chicks. We are the mothers who make a way out of no way. On TV, we are the no-nonsense police chiefs and judges. We are the First Ladies with the impressive guns.

Strong. Black. Woman.

What Happened to Home Economics?

What Happened to Home Economics?
Article by Christen McCurdy, Illustrated by Monica Garwood, appeared in issue Maps & Legends; published in 2014; filed under Social commentary.
The rise and fall of a contested discipline

illustration by Monica Garwood

The only time any teacher talked about birth control at my rural Idaho high school was in a home economics class. I took the class, called Parenting Skills and Child Development, mostly to plug a hole in my schedule that semester. Well into college, whenever I mentioned that I took a parenting class in high school, people would almost reflexively snicker: Isn’t parenting a set of skills everybody should just have? My sophomore-year roommate said, “I just think of classes like that as classes for idiots,” and went on to snark that we needed more classes telling people how to avoid becoming parents in the first place.

Craving the Other

Craving the Other
Article by Soleil Ho, Illustrated by Ana Benaroya, appeared in issue Food; published in 2013; filed under Consumer culture, Social commentary.
One woman's beef with cultural appropriation and food

For a long time, Vietnamese food made me uncomfortable. It was brothy, weirdly fishy, and full of the gross animal parts that other people didn’t seem to want. It was too complicated.

I wanted the straightforward, prefabricated snacks that I saw on television: Bagel Bites, Pop-Tarts, chicken nuggets. When my grandmother babysat me, she would make tiny concessions, preparing rice bowls with chopped turkey cold cuts for me while everyone else got caramelized pork. I would make my own Bagel Bites by toasting a normal-size bagel and topping it with Chinese sausage and a dash of Sriracha. My favorite snack was a weird kind of fusion: a slice of nutrient-void Wonder Bread sprinkled with a few dashes of Maggi sauce, an ultraplain proto–banh mi that I came up with while rummaging through my grandmother’s pantry. In our food-centric family, I was the barbarian who demanded twisted simulacra of my grandmother’s masterpieces, perverted so far beyond the pungent, saucy originals that they looked like the national cuisine of a country that didn’t exist.

Laughing It Off

Laughing It Off
Article by KatherineLeyton, Illustrated by blairestapp, appeared in issue Gray; published in 2013; filed under Social commentary.
What happens when women tell rape jokes?

Helen Thomas, Off the Record

Helen Thomas, Off the Record
Article by Mark Mondalek, Illustrated by lisabrowndraws, appeared in issue Gray; published in 2013; filed under Social commentary.
A few opinions from the First Lady of the Press

All Hail the Queen?

All Hail the Queen?
Article by Tamara Winfrey Harris, appeared in issue Micro/Macro; published in 2013; filed under Social commentary.
What do our perceptions of Beyonce's feminism say about us?

Illustration by Irana Douer.

Who run the world? If entertainment domination is the litmus test, then all hail Queen Bey. Beyoncé. She who, in the last few months alone, whipped her golden lace-front and shook her booty fiercely enough to zap the power in the Superdome (electrical relay device, bah!); produced, directed, and starred in Life Is But a Dream, HBO's most-watched documentary in nearly a decade; and launched the Mrs. Carter Show—the must-see concert of the summer.

Beyoncé's success would seem to offer many reasons for feminists to cheer. The performer has enjoyed record-breaking career success and has taken control of a multimillion-dollar empire in a male-run industry, while being frank about gender inequities and the sacrifices required of women. She employs an all-woman band of ace musicians—the Sugar Mamas—that she formed to give girls more musical role models. And she speaks passionately about the power of female relationships.

But some pundits are hesitant to award the singer feminist laurels.

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